Crime is character building, at least in crime fiction, because it is characters, their dark psychologies and questionable motivations, that drive compelling stories—as the tales in this issue amply demonstrate.
What compels a model prisoner, in Tony Richards’s “Magpie Man,” to burst out of jail just before he is to be lawfully released? What motivates a desperate woman, in Dale Berry’s graphic story “Dead Air,” to strike up a conversation with a radio DJ? Why does a detective, in Wayne J. Gardiner’s “Bygones,” return home for the funeral of his high-school adversary?
Interpersonal entanglements complicate Charles John Harper’s police procedural “The Echoes.” A man seeking invisibility is driven from the dangerous shadows in Bob Tippee’s “Underground Above Ground.” Susan Oleksiw’s “How Do You Know What You Want” is a poignant story of a teen in foster care and the woman who tries to connect with her, and Martin Limón’s P.I. Il Yong pursues a case that takes him to the remote reaches of the Himalayas, where survival may depend on the uncertain kindness of othes, in “hominid.”
Social institutions and conventions are questioned in Alan E. Foulds’ “Razor’s Edge” when a reporter revisits a long-ago cold case, and in Mitch Alderman’s “Bleak Future” when P.I. Bubba Simms looks into extortion among central Florida’s genteel society. An old injustice gets a fresh look in “Rough-Hewn Retribution,” Nancy Pauline Simpson’s historical set in the early twentieth century South. A homicide detective and suspect match wits in the interview room in Chris Knopf’s “A Little Cariñoso.” And a land dispute is complicated—and deadly—in Gilbert M. Stack’s British historical whodunit “Greed.”
Watch out, these complicated characters will steal your attention—and perhaps your sympathy.
Editing a magazine is all about novelty—the next issue, the new stories, the new authors. One of the nice things about a significant anniversary is the occasion to pause and reflect. As we notch our sixtieth year, we thought it would be fun to invite some other voices that have long been associated with the magazine, contributors and a few staffers, to reflect on AHMM in this month’s special feature (The Case File).
But it’s the stories and authors that are the magazine’s raison d’être, and this celebratory issue is also a fine representation of AHMM’s recent decades. We are delighted to welcome Lawrence Block back to our pages with “Whatever It Takes”; Mr. Block first published a story in AHMM in 1963. And we are also delighted to welcome Bruce Arthurs, who makes his AHMM debut this month with “Beks and the Second Note.” And in between those extremes, we have new stories from other writers who have long associations with the magazine: John C. Boland (first AHMM story in 1976); Kristine Kathryn Rusch (1989); David Edgerley Gates (1991); Kathy Lynn Emerson (2001); and Stephen Ross (2010).
I wish I had the room to list the hundreds of authors who have graced AHMM’s pages with stories that have delighted and horrified and intrigued our readers for 60 years. We are grateful to them all.
Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine passes a milestone this year as we celebrate our sixtieth anniversary. You’ll see to the right the special cover we commissioned from Joel Spector for our January/February issue.
The magazine debuted in 1956, capitalizing on the fame of director Alfred Hitchcock and his association in the popular mind with the mysterious and macabre. The television show Alfred Hitchcock Presents had reinforced this association when it began in 1955, but we have now out-lived the TV show by decades thanks to the creative fecundity of our authors and to the loyalty of our readers: your appetite for murder and mayhem appears to be endless.
Though now eligible for AARP membership, AHMM still strives to keep up with the times. We maintain a lively Facebook presence, where we have lately been posting classic covers from past issues, and if you haven’t yet checked out our podcast series on iTunes and Podomatic featuring authors reading their stories, I encourage you to do so.
And even after threescore years, we’re still looking to try new things. Our January/February issue also features our first-ever graphic short story, “Not a Creature Was Stirring . . .” by Dale Berry.
Over the course of the year, we’ll be looking for other ways to celebrate our sixtieth anniversary. But most importantly we will continue to do what has gotten us this far: Bring you, month in and month out, the best mystery and crime short stories from both new and established authors.
Thank you for sixty years of support, and here’s to a delightfully criminous 2016!